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Class Q Permitted Development Rights

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Class Q Permitted Development Rights allows the conversion of agricultural buildings to up to 5 dwellings, providing an alternative income stream for your farm. Contact the Howkins & Harrison Planning Team for more information.

Class Q of Part 6 to Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended), allows for agricultural buildings to be converted into dwellings. This can occur without the need for full planning permission, subject to specified procedures being completed and under several limiting provisions.

Unused Buildings?

Do you have old, unused or underutilised farm buildings that you are considering the demolition of? Are you looking to make room for something else on your land? Or are you clearing space because disused barns are simply gathering dust? The opportunities provided by Class Q are worth exploring.

As Brexit discussions rumble onwards in Whitehall and Europe, the agricultural industry continues to ponder over a lack of subsidiary funding and grants after whatever new deadline is decided upon. As such, creating alternative income streams for farms is becoming a more attractive proposition.

Growth in rental property market

The growth in desire for rental properties as both long-term housing options and holiday lettings, in part, through the success and popularity of conglomerate websites such as Airbnb, outweighs demand. The opportunity to step on to the housing ladder continues to challenge. As house price increases force many to remain in rental properties deep into their thirties, a deposit well over £20,000 has become the norm. This, in turn, creates the need for more ‘grown up’ rental property solutions. These homes are potentially housing a growing family looking to lay down roots for a significant amount of time. The desirability of a barn conversion, located in the countryside, as a rental property, presents a ready stock of renters. These families require stability, come with commitments to their local school and potentially a more solid financial background than those stepping out of the parental home for the first time.

Permitted Rights Legislation

The permitted development rights legislation has changed a number of times. Having been extended in 2014 the legislation now covers the conversion of farm buildings. It was further revised in 2015 to cover ‘impractical’ and ‘undesirable’ as objectionable reasons, as opposed to the previous barrier based only on location. In 2017, a convertibility test was added to Class Q, bringing physical aspects of the building under more scrutiny than before. To claim Class Q Rights, the building must be structurally sound ahead of any application. Additionally, the planned changes must be within certain limitations. The building must have been used for agricultural purposes since 20th March 2013 and be under 465 square meters of existing floor space, if applying for a single unit.

Buildings which may be considered for change of use under Class Q can vary widely in construction, materials and condition. It is therefore crucial to seek professional advice to ensure you meet the limitations in the regulations.

Prior Class Q Applications

It is important to note that prior notification applications under Class Q must be submitted ahead of the commencement of any conversion works, otherwise full planning permission will be required for the development. In addition, it must be noted that development under Class Q cannot be carried out where an agricultural tenancy has run its course or has been terminated less than one year before an application for prior notification is made. Contrary to this note, if both the landlord and tenant have agreed, in writing, that the site is no longer required for agricultural use, Class Q development rights may be pursued.

Contact Howkins & Harrison

If you are considering alternative income streams for your disused agricultural buildings, are looking to convert barns or agricultural buildings to more usable properties or dwellings, in the first instance, please contact Ian Large or Anna Maynell at The Howkins & Harrison Ashby de la Zouch office on 01530 877977 or by email to